Meet Angela Connor, an Alliance of Women in Tech Leadership member, journalist, experienced agency executive, author, speaker, and now entrepreneur. I first encountered Angela, author of “18 Rules of Community Engagement: A Guide for Building Relationships and Connecting with Customers Online“ at a one-day social media training workshop about 10 years ago when she worked at WRAL.com. The workshop featured several presenters but it was Angela that blew the room away and it was Angela that I continued to follow online and in the community for years. It wasn’t until last year that I actually got to know her offline and up close. She did not disappoint. Angela is a fireball. She’s a triple shot of expresso with unlimited energy, confidence, and authenticity.
Just 2 months ago, Angela followed her gut and went from leading agencies (Gelia, Capstrat/Ketchum) to greater success to leading her own. She launched Change Agent Communications, an agency focused on helping brands navigate the ever-evolving media environment we live in today. As Founder and CEO, Angela supports disruptive marketers as they embrace change and take bold moves in new directions. If you want status quo then move along. Angela, 2012’s Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Leadership Award recipient, prefers to be challenged in uncharted waters for brands in the B2B and B2C space to find creative but smart solutions.
I’ve said for many years now, that I am raising two young girls to become phenomenal women. Personally, I am very proud of where we are in relation to that goal. At ages 13, and soon-to-be 18, I could not be more proud of my girls. My oldest, Kalyse and my baby, Kaiya are talented, respectful, goal-oriented, kind-hearted and unique. They are “thinkers” who stand up for what they believe, and even challenge me now and then. I’m now seeing the benefits of some of the parenting choices I’ve made, like talking about my work-life and sharing things with them that were probably over their heads, but not assuming they couldn’t grasp difficult concepts; and giving them options early in life, so they could learn to make choices. I know there’s no way to be a perfect mom, but there are a million ways to be a good one, and I focus on that million.
I’m proud of a lot of my professional accomplishments. This question is hard for me because I’m a firm believer in the notion that “what got you where you are, won’t take you where you want to go.” Because of that, I see myself as a constant work in progress. So if I win an award, get a great promotion, get appointed to a Board or even write a book, I’m looking at myself in the mirror, asking: “What’s next Angie?” I’m kind of like Janet Jackson, asking my own self: “What have you done for me lately?”
But to answer this question broadly, I’d have to say that I’m proud of the path I’ve taken in the agency world. I had a 16-year-career as a journalist, working in newsrooms in Cleveland, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Raleigh before taking on a Social Media Manager role at Capstrat in 2010. I left as EVP, Media and Audience Engagement 7.5 years later. I’m pretty proud of that path and all of the great things that happened for me, and the agency along the way.
I’m also quite proud of all of the rock stars out there at agencies, in newsrooms and in Corporate America who attribute bits of their success to my grooming, nurturing and hands-on management style. Their success is my success. I watch all of them very closely, and I’m still their cheerleader screaming from the sidelines. Or via text message.
I just launched my own company, Change Agent Communications. If I weren’t building my own dream right now, I’d still be getting paid to build someone else’s. I’m not saying this to be flip, it’s just where I am right now, and it’s the truth. I kept waiting for the right time to do this, and realized that there is no right time. Sometimes you just have to act, and I owe it to myself to become even more fearless in my forties.
That’s a big question, because believe it or not, I like knowing that what’s coming is unknown – particularly when it comes to the industry and my career. I’ve shied away from 5 and 10-year-plans because I know that the opportunity lies in the curve balls. So, I’m excited about the things that I don’t know are going to happen in my life, my girls’ lives and my very young, Change Agent Communications.
I found out that a partner and I won some business rebranding a national organization that’s been around for over 50-years, less than a month after I launched. I had no idea that would happen because I initially turned down the offer to respond to the RFP, but then there was a curveball and I eventually did. And won. My daughter will be going to college less than a year from now. I’m excited about that unknown. Right now it’s a list of 8 schools, one of which she plans to get a BFA in Musical Theater to pursue her dream of being on Broadway. I can make plans until the cows come home – and I do. But what excites me most is what’s between the lines of those plans.
I'm still launching. I know from experience that as long as I make it a big deal, it can be just that. That's what I've told my clients over the years, so now it's my turn. I'm going to launch for 12 months straight! Heck, I may even shoot for 24.
I've started Change Agent Communications with a mindset of being agile, and moving as the industry moves. This will involve inventing and reinventing as I go and activating ideas the very week I have them when possible. I would do it the same day they enter my brain if I had all of the skills needed to make it happen, and 10 more hours in the day.
My core value is simple: "Walk the Walk." If I am counseling a client on the importance of video, you'd better believe I'm going to have one as well. (I just launched a whiteboard video with that in mind. You can find it on twitter and LinkedIn, and as the first video on my YouTube channel.) I say all the time that social is a visual medium. So when I hired an intern last week, I had a graphic made for LinkedIn and Twitter announcing it. I'm running Google ads and LinkedIn ads because I have a new brand that requires awareness. I often tout the value of packaged services that are easy for clients to buy, so I created and have been promoting The Social Rewind. A clients are buying.
My launch has not been the result of a 10-page marketing plan. It will become one, but I didn't want to have such rigid ideas and a roadmap I felt compelled to follow even if it wasn't working. I'm learning as I go and I want the agency to reflect that.
I first shared Change Agent Communications with a group of 25-30 people in my network. Then I announced it at a Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce celebration to a few more. That was in August. Two months in, I have five clients, have responded to two RFP's, hired and put to work three freelancers, and secured a partnership that will make Change Agent Communications a real player in an emerging space. And I hired a Digital Marketing and Innovation intern (a title I made up on the fly) who will be working remotely from Indiana.
Now I'm looking for a small office space because I plan to hire 2-3 FTE's in the next 4-6 months.
Fingers crossed I'll have something by December. And of course I'm actively seeking new clients. This just might be the longest launch in the history of the Triangle.
I played violin and viola for nine years and love classical music. I would go to the Symphony every weekend if I could. Also, I love to dance and will bust a few moves pretty much anywhere there is music playing, if the mood hits me. I’m sure there is a ton of surveillance footage in the CVS and Harris Teeter in Holly Springs of me getting my jam on. And that music in Hollister, my youngest daughter’s favorite store…makes me go into full routine mode. She just walks away from me very quickly and shakes her head, and grits her teeth and gives me a firm, “MOM, NO!” It all depends on how hard I’m going on any given visit.
Racism. No explanation needed.
I’ve found that the higher you rise in a company and your career as a whole, the lonelier things tend to become. Once you’re at the Executive level, you can sometimes find yourself without any mentors. Or at least mentors who aren’t solely driven by your success at that company because it’s how they reach their internal goals and get their bonuses. I’m talking about genuine care and concern. I looked up one day and was the one doing all the giving, but wasn’t getting anything from anyone on a regular basis to feed my brain, help me solve high-level challenges or even just to vent and gain a new perspective.
That’s what I’m hoping to receive and give with the Ladies in Leadership, and I’ve already been on both sides of that equation with two awesome ladies. In fact, it was a woman in The Alliance of Women in Tech Leadership who counseled me at a Starbucks when I unveiled my plan to her, but also a bit of my trepidation. She said something that I had not heard before, but made perfect sense. She said: “Angela, I see you out front. If you do anything else, it’s only going to clip your wings.” Those kinds of relationships and different perspectives when you need them most are critical. I am hoping for more of that, and to be that and more for the other ladies in this amazing group.
Our professional woman’s peer group is designed for strong successful leaders in the Triangle. Members include executives in sales, marketing, and business development type roles in technology, pharma, biotech, and healthcare. Our group provides a confidential place to share best practices, discuss strategies, and address business challenges. We share successes, tools, vendors, networks, talent, and ideas that can help each of us grow and develop professionally.
Through our passion, enthusiasm, talent, innovation, recruiting, and success, Women in Tech Leadership support, mentor, and empower one other. We also support one another during trials and transitions, through coaching, collaboration, and resources. Our members are building healthy relationships and stronger networks, creating stronger personal brands, recruiting and retaining talent, positioning ourselves as thought leaders, and communicating with confidence.
We believe in candor and confidentiality, creativity and concision, confidence and circumspection. We believe in taking risks and grasping opportunities that challenge the limits of our capability, and encouraging others to do the same. We believe in winning with integrity, through inspiration and leadership.